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Changemaker April 2019

Hermes Jatczak

Written and Submitted by Terri-Viola Wilson

“When you face the simplest reality that nothing is forever, you can find yourself again and begin a new journey.”

Recently emigrated from Brazil, Hermes shares his life with his wife and daughter in Etobicoke. In June 2016, when he was a Global Business Management student at Humber College, an opportunity came up in his Project Management course, to work on a “real situation” in project definition. With five different non-profits presenting their values and activities, Hermes chose Home Hospice Association. He found himself identifying with HHA’s purpose. Not only did he and his classmates do well on the assignment, but Hermes chose to continue his relationship with HHA by volunteering.

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 In September 2016, Hermes started an internship program with HHA where he and some classmates planned and performed an Environmental Scan to identify the institutions that provide hospice support; number of beds, number of people dependent on the service, and public transportation availability per city (per city in Ontario).

In June 2017, when his internship program finished, Hermes was invited to become an HHA Board Member and he accepted, now finding himself collaborating on activities, participating in events, and contributing to the growth of HHA. Currently serving as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors, Hermes actively serves on the Moonlit Memory Walk and Brand Definition Teams.


When asked to comment on how his life has changed since joining HHA, Hermes shared a very personal story. While Hermes was still living in Brazil, his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The journey was a very difficult one as he watched his father’s mental and ultimately, physical health deteriorate. The father he knew was replaced by someone else who was entirely dependent on those around him. The struggle to deal with this overshadowed the family’s life. After his father passed away, Hermes continued to find himself in the shadow of how his father died. His memories were darkened by what the illness had done, not only to his father, but to himself and his family.


In October of 2017, Hermes participated in the first Moonlit Memory Walk at Humber Yacht Club. He registered, brought a casserole, and prepared to walk in his father’s memory. Little did he know how this event would change his life. It was the Legacy questions that were asked that night that started Hermes on his healing journey. Questions like, “What was your loved one’s philosophy on life? Is there anything you find yourself doing (habits or expressions) that you know you learned from your loved one?” triggered positive memories for Hermes. He found himself sharing with others, stories about his father that brought a smile to his face and he found himself, beginning that night, emerging from the darkness of his father’s illness and death. He found himself remembering how his father lived, not how he died. Hermes describes this as life-altering. “My understanding of life changed and I have resolved some internal issues that I was carrying with me. Sometimes, when you see the world through the eyes of others and face the simplest reality that nothing is forever, you can find yourself and begin a new journey.”

Hermes describes how his HHA coffee mug serves to remind him of some important enlightenment that his work with HHA has taught him. “I started to think about how important it is to have mindfulness in our lives to help others. When we understand that we will die, we live better. We don’t know what tomorrow holds.”


Hermes sees his contributions to HHA as just one part of a much larger picture. “All of us make special contributions to HHA and the communities where we are participating. We are dependent and complementary at the same time. That makes us bigger and stronger as an organization!” And, like everyone else, Hermes says he is hoping to bring meaningful help to those who need it, “thus, making a better world for everyone”.


As for his choice to volunteer in an administrative role, Hermes explains that by helping HHA administratively, the organization becomes stronger and able to provide more support and guidance so the chapters get stronger as well.


When he finds himself struggling or at a crossroads, Hermes draws strength and inspiration from, first and foremost, God. “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” he says, not so much asking the question, but affirming his belief.

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